For years, many people in the publishing industry have been bemoaning the lost art of reading – citing that livelier distractions and new technologies have taken away our focus and veneration for the written word. Movies, television, video games, social media…you name it, these are all reasons NOT to read.
This is a difficult fact to argue. I mean, who among us, between our grueling daily commute, tedious 9-to-5 jobs, school classes, home responsibilities has time to read? And why bother? There always seems to be a new, more enticing flashy object to lure our attention. #selfiepost
But here I will argue that to give up the profound experience of reading is to do yourself a disservice. Though I myself am a self-proclaimed book-lover and book snob who tries to read at least 40-52 quality books per year, I realize I’m in the minority. I know of NO ONE I know personally, who reads as much as I do (except the nerds in my online book club, but they are a different breed altogether). And this is not to show off or prove how cool I am; rather, it’s to illustrate how sad it has become that the average person in North America reads only between 5-12 books to year (and most of them best-sellers, commercial fiction, celebrity-endorsed books, etc…). Books should not be just as a passing fancy, to see what the fuss is about (here’s looking at you, FIFTY SHADES OF GREY), or something to carry with you to the beach.
So, without further ado, are 5 reasons WHY I READ:
1) TO LEARN
Oprah recently did an interview with mega Hollywood producer, Brian Grazer, on the nature of curiosity and how it has shaped his career. I turn to books because I realize there is just SO MUCH I don’t know about the world. And I want to know more. I want to learn. Why? Learning for learning’s sake? Well, yes. Every time I learn something new, it’s like having a badge of honour pinned to my chest – it means I have accomplished something. I know something now that I’ve never known before. And to think all of this KNOWLEDGE is just squished somewhere in the crisp pages of a book…AMAZING!
I used to walk into a library and think to myself in awe – Why, if a person can READ, they can literally learn anything they want. Just pluck a book from the shelf and it’s right at their fingertips. Knowledge is power.
2) TO SEE ANOTHER’S POINT OF VIEW/GAIN EMPATHY
I don’t know what it’s like to live with a fundamentalist Muslim. I don’t know what it’s like to survive in the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica. I don’t know what it’s like to be a Suffragette who is jailed because she is fighting for basic human rights.
Yet, when I read books on topics like these (THE BLIND MAN’S GARDEN/A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEVEN KILLINGS/My own research for my 1st novel) – I start to understand another person’s point of view. I may never go to Afghanistan or Pakistan (nor, may I ever want to); I don’t have access to a time machine to go back 100 years, but through reading, I can experience all of these facets of life. To see the world through another’s eyes makes you a more empathetic person. You may not agree with everything they say or do, but at least you can have a more informed, well-rounded perspective.
3) TO LEARN PROPER GRAMMAR AND SPELLING
I don’t even have to try with this one – it just happens automatically. You want to learn how to spell and write properly? READ. Just read. You will learn how good sentences are made (and even the bad ones).
4) TO LIGHT UP YOUR IMAGINATION
5) IT MAKES YOU A BETTER HUMAN BEING
I would never purport to be a perfect person, but I would say that books have made a huge impact on my life and have taught me many things. The best books are sometimes the ones that make you the most uncomfortable. But through this discomfort, you are forced to hold up a mirror to yourself and ask: Why do I feel this way? And examine your own innate prejudices and insecurities. I don’t think I would be the person I am today without books.
So go and pick one up today (any book) and let it change your life. :-)